Studio Saturdays: Doodle Art

The words “doodle” and “art” most definitely belong side-by-side–just check out the fantastic doodle art of Joanne Sharpe. She combines fanciful artwork, unique lettering, and vibrant color in such an incredible way that you can’t take your eyes away from her work. She has a new book, Doodle Art and Lettering With Joanne Sharpe, and it will inspire you to open your art journal and try her exciting mixed-media techniques. It’s packed with great information, plus tons of artwork samples from her sketchbook for extra inspiration.

Joanne’s Brush and Sparkle watercolor lettering from the Alpha Doodles chapter immediately caught my eye—the energy of the letters was enthralling. I pulled out my lettering sketchbook, a new watercolor palette, and a water brushes, and got to work. Or, rather, play.

doodle art

Because I hadn’t practiced brush lettering in a while, I took a few minutes to get reacquainted with the technique. I used a page in my journal to make some thick and thin lines, curved shapes, and diagonal strokes. Using a water brush for doodle art lettering makes so much sense—the ombré effect is gorgeous, and the thickness of the letters allows space for lots of embellishments.

Practicing with a water brush
Take some time to get acquainted with your tools; I practiced basic strokes with a water brush.

Next, I created a brushed alphabet in a rainbow of colors. The great thing about Joanne’s approach to doodle art lettering is that you really can’t go wrong or make a mistake. This lettering is based on your handwriting, which means it won’t look like anyone else’s. If letters are wonky and imperfect, great! Go with it. Using a water brush also allows you to go back in and add color or thicken letters.

Doodle art lettering with a water brush
This doodle art lettering style starts with a brushed alphabet, using your own handwriting.

When the paint was dry I used Joanne’s technique with colorful markers and a white gel pen to add some fun patterning in and around the letters—dots, lines, squiggles, circles. This really makes them pop off the page, and you’re only limited by your imagination.

Doodle art added to brush lettering
Doodle art was added to the letters, both inside and out.

For the next part of this project I created a border design for a quote, using the techniques in the chapter Pages, Frames, and Borders. To start, I penciled in a rectangular frame on the page, then drew my go-to flower, a five-petal wonky design, and added some vines.

Doodle art border rendered in pencil
Some favorite motifs were chosen for the doodle art border.

As I inked in the design with a permanent artist pen, I also incorporated some of Joanne’s doodle art designs; this is a great idea to refresh your artwork. Your piece will ultimately look like your work, but adding something new and different, and then adapting it, is what allows you to push the envelope and take your art further. I added some pebble designs, and filled in a few spaces with diagonal lines. These created depth and added visual texture to the piece.

Doodle art designs added to inked-in border
While inking in the border, I added some of Joanne Sharpe’s doodle art designs.

I lightly penciled in a short quote to make sure my spacing was okay. Joanne suggests that after writing the letters in pencil, you erase them, so only very light lines remain (a kneaded eraser works great for this). These won’t be seen after you add the watercolor, but if you leave the pencil lines dark, they’ll stay there.

The frame was colored in first with watercolor. I created a color swatch first to work out my palette.

Color swatch for final piece
A color swatch helps to create a cohesive look, especially when there are a lot of details.

Then I started painting the larger motifs, like the flowers and leaves, before coloring the smaller elements, and finally the background.

Doodle art colored with watercolor
Watercolor was used to color in the doodle art, starting with the larger motifs.

The doodle art lettering came next; I used a water brush and watercolor, staying within the palette, and then added some decoration with markers. The letters were outlined with a fine-nib black artist pen. To tie everything together I added a few extra doodle designs on the frame with markers, and added some watercolor paint splatters with a brush.

Doodle art finished with details and watercolor splatters
The finished piece is tied together with extra details and watercolor splatters.

Doodle Art and Lettering, like Joanne’s other books, truly speaks to a mixed-media artist’s heart. The combination of doodling, lettering, and color is sublime, and I know her methods will take my artwork to new places. With this project alone, they already have. Let these techniques add some fun and style to your artwork.

If you love Joanne Sharpe’s artwork, or you’d love to know more about her style and techniques, check out more of her books and videos from the North Light Shop!

Doodle Art and Lettering with Joanne Sharpe
Doodle Art and Lettering with Joanne Sharpe is packed with ideas for combining doodles and lettering into mixed-media art.
Joanne Sharpe's Inspirational Art Journals video
In the video Joanne Sharpe’s Inspirational Art Journals, learn how to make journals and fill them with gorgeous lettering.
Letter Love: Embracing Your Handwriting eBook by Joanne Sharpe
Get all of Joanne Sharpe’s columns from Cloth Paper Scissors, plus bonus content, in this Letter Love: Embracing Your Handwriting eBook.
Cloth Paper Scissors Lettering Lessons Volume 3: Decorated Alphabet by Joanne Sharpe
In Lettering Lessons Volume 3: Decorated Alphabet by Joanne Sharpe, discover how to create vibrant letters filled with doodle art and designs.


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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